AMID the chaos that is breakfast on school mornings, the headline announcing "Rod Stewart to be a dad again at 60" caught my eye.

Rocker Rod is already a father-of-six, with offspring ranging from the ages of 41 to ten. And it was while I was reflecting on the thought of him being 73 by the time his latest child becomes a teenager that the household chaos suddenly deepened.

"Why didn't you tell me last night?" yelled Mum, with two plates of beans on toast in her hands.

Jack, 11, had forgotten to mention the fact that he was taking his cycling proficiency test that morning. The seat of his bike needed raising, his tyres needed pumping up, and we were leaving for school in 15 minutes flat.

I put the paper down and set about rescuing the situation, saying: "Don't worry, Jack, I'll sort it out", while Mum banged plates in the background.

Easier said than done. I had the bike between my legs for extra leverage but the seat wouldn't budge. It was rusted beyond recall and no amount of WD40 or assortment of spanners would do the trick.

"It's no good, Jack," I gasped in submission, "you'll have to ride it as it is."

The tyres were next - but where was the pump? It wasn't in the garage, the kitchen drawer, or the garden shed, and my blood pressure was starting to approach Mum's.

In the end, after running round the house like something demented, I found it in the greenhouse - but it didn't have a nozzle. After more running around, I eventually found it, still attached to his brother's bike.

With the clock approaching ten to nine, I started pumping like a man possessed, praying there were no punctures because I've never solved the mystery of how to make an inner tube patch stick.

I had a vision of a wheezing Rod Stewart in years to come, on his knees in his tight leather trousers and leopard skin top, racing against time to inflate a couple of flat tyres, and spluttering: "Do ya think I'm sexy?" as he pumped away.

Luckily, there were no holes in the tyres. They stayed firm but I knocked the wind out of myself by standing up and cracking my head on the kitchen windowsill.

I blinked through the pain as Jack tested his bike round the garden - moaning because his knees were up near his chin - before we finally set off for school. The whistle was blowing just as we got there and Jack parked his bike alongside a dozen others - all of them with helmets hanging from the handlebars.

HELMETS! He'd forgotten his helmet and wouldn't be allowed to take his proficiency test without one. I ran home, searched the garage, the garden shed and the greenhouse, and couldn't find a helmet anywhere. My head was pounding from the encounter with the windowsill - I could have done with a safety helmet myself.

In desperation, I rang a friend who confirmed she could lend us a helmet. I ran round her house, grabbed the helmet without breaking stride, hot-legged it to the school, and tied it to Jack's bike. Mission accomplished.

"How did your cycling proficiency test go?" I asked Jack that night.

"Oh, it was cancelled - I had a guitar lesson instead," he replied nonchalantly.

If I was Rod Stewart, I'd be on my bike to the nearest vasectomy clinic as fast as possible.


"I COUNT myself blessed to have bestowed upon me the honour of fatherhood again with Penny whom I love and cherish so much." - Rod Stewart's reported comment after the pregnancy announcement.

(What he really said: "Oh my God, how did that happen?")


ALEX, aged three, went to a party dressed as a fairy, complete with wings and a wand.

On hearing a disturbance, her gran went to investigate, only to find Alex banging her wand against the wall and wailing: "My wand's broken. Look, they're still sat there."

Alex was pointing at two little boys who were supposed to have turned into frogs.

(Thanks to Doreen Whitlock, whose sister is the gran in question, for writing in with this little gem.)

DOREEN also told of the time grandson Luke was asked to choose a present out of a catalogue for his seventh birthday. His eyes lit up when he spotted a PlayStation offer.

"Oh grandma! I've waited all my life for one of those," he said.

Sadly, it was for over 18-year-olds, so Luke was told he couldn't have it for another 11 years, to which he replied. "It will be out of fashion by then. Oh grandma, you've ruined my life for ever."